Gorbachev Says Much To Be Done Before Pope Can Visit With PM-Soviet-Church
MOSCOW (AP) _ The Vatican’s No. 2 official talked with Mikhail S. Gorbachev today and delivered a letter from John Paul II, but the Soviet leader indicated the pope would not be visiting the Soviet Union anytime soon.
Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, the Vatican secretary of state, met the Soviet leader and Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze at the Kremlin Council of Ministers building.
The cardinal was in Moscow leading a Vatican delegation to celebrations of the 1,000th anniversary of Russian Christendom.
Polish-born John Paul was not invited to take part. He has insisted he must be free to meet with Roman Catholics in Lithuania and elsewhere in the Soviet Union if he visits the country.
Waiting to greet Casaroli, Gorbachev was asked by reporters when the pope might visit the Soviet Union.
″For that, a lot still has to happen,″ Gorbachev said.
Shevardnadze, who also talked to reporters briefly, said ″the time will come″ when the pope can travel to the Soviet Union. ″We’ll talk to Casaroli about it,″ Shevardnadze said.
Vatican officials said that Casaroli carried a letter to Gorbachev from John Paul, but they said nothing about its contents.
On Friday, Casaroli met with five bishops and priests of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, which is not officially recognized in the Soviet Union and therefore operates illegally.
The officially atheist state supports, but has traditionally tightly controlled, the Russian Orthodox Church.